Hawke remained pretty tight-lipped throughout. Denton had to had to dig deep— in other words he had to hope his subject had soft underbelly and that it was still accessible after all these years by the Forth Estate. Hope lies eternal, Andres. But what about the rumour that Bobbie’s mum always knew he’d be PM? Did his beloved dad, Clem, really once claim that “Bobbie had a magic flowing out of him?” The Rodes scholar’s guarded answer to both? Yes: he’d had a happy childhood.
What about the demon alcohol? We all know that Bobbie likes a drink … well yes, the Rhodes scholar admitted. He was a drunk. Is is still a drunk? No, but … . One is definitely left with the impression that Bobbie’s hold on the wagon will always be tenuous.
Prime Minister for nine years, Hawke was the first PM to have been elected without having sat in Parliament as Leader of the Opposition. He would also be the first PM to be ousted by members of his own party. Hawke’s definition of the essence of power is “the knowledge that what you do will effect the happiness and well-being of millions of people … the essence of power is what it could mean for others” ie. power enables the individual to improve or destroys lives. Hence his favorite show, “Yes Minister” which he watched compulsively because according to him “I recognised the game.”
Hawke was definitely a player and still is. Erudite, compassionate, guarded—he could have had AD for breakfast (like Seinfeld) but didn’t. Oh yes, he threw that bit in about Paul Keating coming round to tea, and obviously loved the fact that it left Denton gasping for air but that was about it.
But for me the most fascinating and chilling insight from this complex public figure were his comments on the power of media and the effect of the communication revolution on the collective consciousness.
“Well it’s as though we’ve got a lobotomy. We’ve had a lobotomy. There’s one side right which is developed exponentially in the way we can produce goods and services and communicate now is just infinitely beyond recognition compared to just less than a century ago. That side of the brain has just blossomed and flourished and given the opportunity for us to have a life beyond imagination. The other side is if anything has withered. It certainly hasn’t matched the growth of this side. Our social engineering capacity, our sort of moral conscience if you like the consciousness it hasn’t developed … I do despair when I see the prioritisation of the issues presented by the media. It’s as you say. I mean I just literally cringe whenever I see the name Paris Hilton. Who wants to know about what bloody Paris Hilton is doing when you’ve got half the world living in, you know poverty? When you’ve got the potential for the world blowing itself up?”
Yes, Prime Minister.
Watch the full interview here: